SPNA – Loser & What is and What Should Never Be

2 more anime episodes are next up on our review.  One new and one remade. (after this we’ll have 2 more episodes to finish out the anime reviews)

Loser

This is a very interesting anime original episode because it ends up tying into the main story so well it almost seems like it should have been in the live show.  See, this story examines the character of Jake Talley, remember him?  He stabbed Sam Winchester in the back then ran off to go star in Leverage.  Well in the show all we knew about him was:

SAM: You were in Afghanistan when this started?

JAKE: Yeah, I started getting headaches. And then there was this accident. This guy flipped his vehicle on a bad road. He got pinned underneath. I lifted it off him like it was nothing. Everybody said it was a fluke adrenaline thing.

SAM: But then you did it again, right?

JAKE: Bench-pressed 800 pounds, stone-cold calm. I never told anybody, of course. It was just too crazy.

Here in this episode, we get to see that with him serving in Afghanistan, having issues, and the moment when his strength manifests.  To involve Sam and Dean, Sam has a vision of Jake’s family in trouble so the bros go to see what they can do, kind of mashing bits of the plot from “Hunted” (2.10) to fill out the episode.

This story is… interesting.  Animation does not (yet) have the ability to convey subtle clues of emotion like the human face can so typically everything is much more forward meaning it’s easy for the audience to see the characters as “large hams” at times.  This episode definitely has that but then there’s a moment where it crosses the line a second time going from hammy, to strangely compelling.  I’ll admit I was chocking back a manly tear by the end of it.

I also like this episode because it is a GREAT example of how to do tragedy in a story.  A tragedy should always involve something the audience doesn’t want to see happen, and a clear path towards that event which is obvious to the audience, obviously preventable to the audience, and yet is also obvious that it cannot be prevented because of who the characters are (this is why I consider Elfen Lied to be the greatest tragedy in anime that I’ve seen so far).  Do it all right, and the audience will feel punched in the gut, ask why, and know the answer.

I still consider the yellow-eyed demon’s temptation of Jake in “All Hell…part 2” to be one of the best temptation scenes ever scripted (oh man could I do an essay on how badly hollywood does temptation).  While the temptation scene in this episode (which is post-credits btw) is weaker, I think it’s more than improved by the examination and exploration of Jake and his family as a character.  This is one time the brothers couldn’t save someone, and you hate that.

Close, but not quite a full on 5 shell episode.  This is another of the ones that prove how great the anime could have been and be used to explore new things.

What is and What Should Never Be

With the same title as one of the most infamous episodes of the series, it’s no secret that this is a remake of what I consider to be the most important episode of Supernatural.  Which means… we have to compare it to the live show.  And?  It doesn’t quite equal the original.

Negative out of the way first.  Give that this is the other, most emotional episode involving Dean, it really would be best to have Jensen doing the voice of the English dub.  The other flaw is that they alter Dean’s realization and reasoning for escaping the dream world which… while I won’t say that it’s bad or out of character, it completely changes the implications of the episode and (by consequence) much more of the show as a whole – or it would if the anime had more than 2 more episodes in it.

The exaggerated emotion in this episode I didn’t think quite reach the same height and pitch perfection that the previous episode did (mostly due to the voice not being “Dean”).

Also instead of mowing the lawn, Dean paints his mother’s roof.  I’m putting this under negative because while adorable in its own way, who the heck paints their roof?  (Not being a smartass, is this a thing elsewhere in the world?  In my area we just have shingles which are not in any condition to be painted.)

The positive?  The structure of the story works VERY well in the 30 minute format.  Rather than cluing the viewers in on what’s happening, the show just starts with Dean waking up in the other world, befuddled about what’s going on.  Yes it’s not a mystery if you know the original, but seeing the episode on its own the mystery is very effective.

The djinn is also much more of an eldritch horror this time around.  Rather than a painted up dude drinking blood, we never see it beyond a few clues and this horrible… mass that’s growing over Dean, consuming him whole.  Yes I know this makes the episode almost more of a straight rip-off of the X-files’ “Field Trip” but you can’t argue that imagery works!

Sam also gets the full save instead of being helped out by Dean at the last minute.  While I do usually prefer the boys working together to kill things, it was kind of nice to see Sam get a full on rescue this time, plus it allowed for more time over the important, alternate-world stuff.

All in all I give this

Curved just a bit because of the original being such a powerful episode and this one just doesn’t quite measure up.  It’s still a VERY impressive outing.

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